Ghost story

I wouldn’t have believed it if it hadn’t happened to me. The other night I had a little ghostly experience, on Christmas Eve in fact, apologies to Dickens and his spiritual cadres. Now, before anyone thinks I’m losing my marbles, I think I can explain what happened. But I’ll tell you this, it was terrifying.

On Friday a friend and I went shopping. Somewhere along the line I must have been exposed to a nasty bug. By Saturday I was a mess, without going into the gory details, let’s just say the only thing worse than chills and fever are chills and fever with extreme double-end nausea.

By Sat night, Christmas Eve, I knew I was in for a bad night. Hours of violent fluid loss and delirium had taken their toll. I guess my body just sorta gave up trying to expunge whatever it was. With the help of a handful of painkillers and diphenhydramine, I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. Until about 3 O’clock in the morning when I woke with a start, it was like coming out of an alcohol induced college black out. With one horrifying exception: I was not alone!

I live by myself in a small apartment, but before I even opened my eyes I felt what I can only describe as The Presence. Dark, foreboding, beyond rational explanation. I knew there were things in my little adobe. When I opened my eyes, I could see them in the darkness, and hear a menacing whispering. The one that was closest to me looked like an old lady in an old-fashioned bonnet. Others were dimly visible in the distance. With great effort I fumbled for my cell phone, always kept charging next to my bed. It was like my arm weighed a ton, I could barely move it. But somehow I reached and grabbed the phone. With one hand I managed to swipe it on, and got 9-11 entered in to the registry. And at that moment, some semblance of reason took over.

This couldn’t be happening, I knew I must be dreaming or hallucinating.  The figures I was seeing look a little too much like that scene in Poltergeist where the spirits walk down the staircase. The whispering sounded exactly like what the kids in the movie Knowing heard. And I realized I had seen both those movies in the last few days. The Presence was still there, scary as ever, I could see and hear the people. But I forced myself to relax, close my eyes, and see if I could go to sleep, or wake up as the case may be. It sounds easy now, at the time it took every bit of control and willpower I could muster.

It worked, some indeterminate time later I opened my eyes, no presence, no dim figures, no weird whispering. Then I picked up my phone, and what do you suppose I saw in registry, yeap, 9-1-1, clear as day.

Now I know I wasn’t really visited by ghosts. I understand intellectually that I must have suffered a bout of sleep paralysis; it’s happened to me before. And it was pretty obvious that in my half conscious stupor I had managed to really dial those numbers into the phone. So I knew, rationally, that it was a delusion. But when I saw those numbers in the phone display, I promise you, the ice-cold chill that ran down my back like freezing cold syrup was as real as it gets.



  1. jamessweet says

    Yeah, I’ve been known to sleep-do-stuff at times in the past. The weirdest one — and the closest to this event, although mine was funny and not scary — happened when I was a senior in high school. A buddy of mine was already to college, and I had borrowed his bass amp to play a show. I left a message with his dorm roommate right before I went to bed asking when he wanted his amp back.

    When I woke up the next morning, there was a message on my answering machine. It was one of those old-style tape answering machines, where if you picked up after it started recording, you’d hear your conversation unless you explicitly stopped it.

    And what I heard was a very confused conversation involving myself, which I had absolutely no recollection of whatsoever. Apparently the message had been garbled and instead of “when do you want your amp back” my buddy had been asked when he wanted his “flapjacks”. Very bizarre…

  2. sheila says

    Scary! Well done you for staying logical in extremely frightening circumstances.

    I’ve only had sleep paralysis once. I was being strangled by a masked man, and then I woke to find the sheet had wrapped itself tightly around my neck. And I couldn’t move to loosen it! The paralysis probably lasted all of five seconds, but it felt like a hell of a lot longer.

  3. F says

    Next time you feel like there are things in your adobe, pluck them out if they are largish so you don’t plaster them to the walls. Otherwise, they are probably safe to ignore.

  4. jacobfromlost says

    When I was 7, I had a visit from my mother’s ghost. I awoke suddenly, and she seemed to be saying everything was ok. Slowly, she faded away…

    …and as she faded away, I remembered my mother wasn’t dead, which meant that it wasn’t my mother, which meant that I was dreaming. If she had been dead, or if I had wanted to believe X about that experience (or been primed to believe in demons, or whatever), it would have been very easy to do so at that time.

    I’ve also awakened suddenly to see giant spiders, a swarm of small black spiders with tiny orange rings around some of their legs, and once when I was about 6 I awoke to find one of those weird monkey’s with the cymbals in my room…and just as I realized I had no such toy, the thing turned and looked at me with glowing red eyes and started banging the damned cymbals. The worst nightmare I ever had, and even after I actually WAS awake for five minutes, I still believed the thing was in my room somewhere even though no one could find it (the emotional state followed me for a few minutes even into my waking state).

    The brain is a wacky thing that can’t always be trusted. You can always ask the person next to you if they can see what you see…and hope you are not hallucinating the person you are asking as well, lol. But I’ve found that if you see something strange, test it, test it, test it. Grab that giant spider! That’s when it disappears.

    I had sleep paralysis a couple times in college when napping in my car. I had no hallucinations, though; I just saw a smeared version of the ceiling of my car and a bit of sky out of the windshield while being unable to move for a minute or two. That was terrifying enough, especially when you try to breathe and nothing happens voluntarily.

  5. says

    Goddamit, now I’m going to be seeing spiders with orange rings around their legs …

    Yeah I imagine this one way some people end up believing in ghosts. They have an experience like that, with some flimsy evidence like my phone resgitry, and The Presense, which can now be induced artifically with magnets I blieve. And boom, they’re absolutely convinced. And of course once you accept a supernatural event or item of any kind, you can be suckered into believing almost anything about that world becuase it cannot be tested.

  6. Johnny Vector says

    Never had sleep paralysis, but the emotional state from dreams often lingers for some time after I wake. I do seem to have an amusing method of coping with nightmares. Unfailingly, when things get scary I go into director mode. After 9/11, I had a dream with a plane on fire, and my first thought (still dreaming) was “It’s moving too fast for how far away it is. Stupid mistake. They shoulda got Loni Peristere to do the effects instead of whoever screwed this up.” Or a couple nights ago, when there was someone with a gun, and I got all “scary, yeah, but let’s go with bleach bypass and then fade it to straight monochrome when I start running. And put in a heartbeat-timed pulsation of that yellowish color that David Boyd used in ‘Out of Gas’.”

    Which actually I think is a pretty good choice! So now if I’m ever called upon to direct or shoot a scary movie, I’m all set.

    My brain is weird.

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